Saturday, May 29, 2010

Quilt Progress and Podcast Update

OK, so this silly virus has me feeling particularly uncreative, and so my podcast will be delayed a few days. I have most everything done, but need to finish writing the project pages.

In happier news, I am pleased to report that my new design wall is a HUGE success. (And yes, the upcoming podcast has instructions so that you can make your own if you don't already have one!) Every time I walk past my design wall, I get inspired to work on my current quilt.

I am not going to share much about my current quilt -- I want it to be a surprise. A few of you do know about it, but everyone else will just have to wait!

But I'm going to share one teeny piece of the quilt. Here's a close-up of one small area. This particular area is made of fused applique, and I'm doing machine blanket stitch around the edge of each piece. The fabric you see is Ricky Tims' hand-dyed. The bobbin thread is Bottomline, and the upper thread is King Tut variegated ("Pharaoh Tales"), both by Superior Threads. The pieces were appliqued using Steam a Seam 2 Lite, and the stabilizer is that gold paper that comes on a roll. This piece and two other that are similar will be needle-turn appliqued in place. VERY pleased with the quilt progress.
Don't despair! The podcast is in the works!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More Fabric Dyeing!

I'm working on a very large art quilt that requires a wide array of special fabrics. As you recall, I bought 10 pieces of Ricky Tims' hand dyed fabric at the seminar a few weeks ago, but I still didn't have two pieces I needed for this quilt. One was the sky, which I dyed last week, and another was gray fabric to make a stone wall.

So this morning I dyed a yard of my handy dandy Kona cotton (which I buy by the bolt). I used a combination of Tsukineko alcohol-based ink in Cool Grey, Adirondak alcohol-based ink in Butterscotch (neither of which is actually a fabric dye, but in my experience they are colorfast when treated properly), and finally Pebeo Setacolor in Black. The cool effect that you see was caused by using a LOT of large-crystal salt as explained below.

Here is what I did:
  1. I washed the Kona cotton with Synthrapol to prepare it for dyeing, then I splotched the two inks all over. That created a sort of pastel gray base. 
  2. Then I splotched (I think that's a technical term!) the Setacolor paint all over and squished it all around. 
  3. I laid the fabric on the lawn outside in the sun and sprinkled a LOT of salt all over it. 
  4. After it dried I washed it in Synthrapol again, and dried it on hot.

After I ironed the fabric, I cut it into strips and then created a sort of brick effect. Each "brick" is 5 x 2 finished. I think my stone wall turned out absolutely perfectly. What do you think? (I'm not showing it on the quilt in progress because I want to do a Big Reveal when that quilt is done.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Really Clever Graduation Card Idea

One of my templates is featured in a very clever way on the Hero Arts blog today. Tami Hartley, the featured blogger, used my Square Petal Card template to make a graduation cap.  

Here's a link to the Hero Arts blog page, just in time for you to make a gazillion cards for all of the graduates in your life! (I'm so green with envy -- wish I had thought of this first!)


Monday, May 17, 2010

Dyeing Fabric for a Sky

I brought out a picture that I'm making into a large wall quilt and pinned it to my design wall. (YAY, design wall!) I received permission from the artist years ago to make a quilt using his image, and I took it to Kinko's to have it enlarged. The enlarged picture has been rolled in a tube since then.

Well, with my new design wall (YAY, design wall!), I am inspired to get going on this sure-to-be masterpiece. Part of the image is a summer sky, and I didn't have an appropriate fabric in my considerable stash, so I decided to dye a yard myself.

I buy Kona cotton in white, black, and ecru by the bolt because I use it for so many projects, and it's really versatile. So I tore a yard of the ecru and washed it to remove any sizing, and then I used four colors of non-traditional dyes (Tsukineko all-purpose ink, which is colorfast) to make large blotches all over it, then squished the ink into the fabric. Then I laid the fabric on the lawn and sprinkled sea salt all over it (which creates a lovely blotchy effect). After rinsing the fabric several times, first in white vinegar and then in cold water, and then drying it in a hot dryer, I ironed it with a hot iron.

Here is the result, and it's just perfect for my quilt. I'm going to cut it into circles and do traditional English paper piecing for the sky areas of the quilt.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Podcast 016 - Wonderful Babies! And My Report of the Ricky Tims Super Quilt Seminar

Total length of this podcast: 1:06

CLICK HERE to listen to Podcast 016. Right-click on the link to save it to your hard drive, or better yet, so you don't miss future podcasts, subscribe via iTunes or PodBean using one of the links on the right side of my blog.

You can skip to whatever segment interests you -- check the minute markers for each segment.


The bumper music for this podcast is Brahms Lullaby, in keeping with my theme of Babies.

Hey, don't forget to use my store links at the top of this blog for ALL of your online purchases! I get a small commission for each click-through purchase you make. Please help me pay for my increased cost of hosting my podcasts. (Or you can make a donation via PayPal using the link along the right column of my blog.) Thank you for your support.

Here are some items you might be interested in purchasing after listening to the podcast today.

CLICK HERE to join the Big Tent Quiltcast Supergroup, a terrific place to meet other podcasters and quilters!

Here's a little slide show of my trip to Shipshewana and the Ricky Tims Super Quilt Seminar, in case you missed it last week.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Super Seminar 2010

Shipshewana Links:
THE FIBER ARTS SEGMENT [Podcast minute marker: 14:25]

Amish Puzzle Ball (made from my Alice in Wonderland fabric available HERE from Spoonflower)

Baby bib and burp cloth made from a cloth diaper and cotton fabric

Click the image below to open the Amish Puzzle Ball project.

Click the image below to open the Baby Bib and Burp Cloth project.

THE GRAB BAG [Podcast minute marker: 19:30]
Yours Truly with Ricky Tims. I don't think I could smile any bigger if I tried!

The stage set-up. From left to right: Libby Lehman, Alex Anderson, Ricky Tims.
You can see how huge the screen is on the right side.
This was taken from my seat, so you can see how close we were!

 Ricky the night of the concert. Yes, that's a cowboy hat.
He's a Texan (now living in Colorado), complete with a drawl.

 Ricky at the piano during the concert.
It was beautifully lit, with two of his famous quilts as the background.

Ricky playing a song, and the screen showing an accompanying video.
In this case, it was the video of the studio session making the recording of the song.
He has several CDs.

CLICK HERE to see where future Ricky Tims Super Quilt Seminars will be held -- try to get to one if you can!

CLICK HERE to check out Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson on The Quilt Show.

And remember . . .
creativity isn’t a race
it’s an adventure!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope that all of you mothers and "spiritual mothers" are having a wonderful day.

The Teds have been known to forget Special Days, or to give incredibly inappropriate gifts to me, making me fly into a rage or break down in tears. I mean, how can they be so insensitive?

Well, not today! This morning my son Teddy presented me with my gift. It is, in my estimation, the perfect gift for me. It's a cutting board, but not just any cutting board. It was hand made by a Michigan artist and is of beautiful birdseye maple and inlaid with black walnut. While it is, indeed, a work of art, it is meant to be used. This is the perfect crossroad of "art" and "craft." It is about 12 inches long, and is perfect for small cutting jobs.
CLICK HERE to visit the artist's Web site, Steve Uren Studios in Marquette, Michigan. His work is beautiful.

I already used it to cut strawberries for strawberry shortcake, and to mince garlic for my braised short ribs, which I am making for dinner tonight, along with yummy roasted asparagus and a lovely wilted lettuce salad.

"What!?" you say? "She has to make her own Mother's Day dinner?" The Teds would have taken me out to dinner, but I requested to stay at home and cook. After a few fairly disastrous dinners in local restaurants, I learned that I am a far better cook than any place they might have taken me, and I LOVE to cook. I just have to get them trained to clean up after me!

My podcast is planned, and I can't wait to get the projects finished! The theme was inspired by two recent events, and I am so excited to share it with you -- but right now it's a surprise!

Enjoy the rest of your day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

My Trip to the Ricky Tims Super Quilt Seminar

My sister Pat and I attended the Ricky Tims Super Quilt Seminar in Olmsted Falls, Ohio, last week. We'd been planning this trip for ages, and it was well worth it!

I took the Amtrak train from Michigan to Pat's house in Illinois, and we took a road trip through Indiana, where we stopped in Shipshewana, which is Amish country. Then we continued to North Olmsted, Ohio (near Cleveland).

The seminar provided so much information! It was all lecture, so we didn't have to drag sewing machines around.

Ricky was joined by Alex Anderson and Libby Lehmann, and between the three of them they covered so many techniques. Ricky is known for his incredible applique techniques, Alex is more of a traditional quilter and showed hand quilting techniques, and Libby is known for her innovative surface embellishment technique called "threadplay."

I'm going to talk at length about our adventure in my podcast next week, but until then I'll share the following slide show with you.
Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: SuperSeminar2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

Baby Shower Gift

While on my quilting adventure last week we stopped in a quilt shop in Shipshewana, Indiana (which is Amish country) and I found some fabulous Minkee fabric. I knew that I wasn't going to get my niece and nephew's new baby quilt done in time for her shower this Saturday, so I bought some Minkee and made a super-soft blanket. And yesterday at a local Bernina shop I found some different Minkee fabrics and got some to make a coordinating bean bag frog. The frog is filled with plastic pellets, so it has a nice weight to it.

The frog pattern is available for free download HERE.

I love Minkee fabric -- it's just so amazingly soft. The Teds wanted to keep the blanket, so I may have to buy some more and make a throw that they can fight over.

I was hoping to do a podcast this week talking about the Super Seminar, but I just didn't get to it. I'll talk about it in my mid-May podcast, I promise! So much to share!


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Report From the Road

As you know, I've been traveling this week and at the moment am at the hotel in North Olmsted, Ohio, (near Cleveland) where I attended the Ricky Tims Super Quilt Seminar, featuring Ricky, Alex Anderson, and Libby Lehmann. It was a two-and-a-half-day EXTRAVAGANZA!

If you ever have a chance to attend one of Ricky's seminars, go for it! My head is so stuffed with information and ideas that I'm afraid it will explode!

I will be recording a short podcast when I am home mid-week -- it will just be a report on the seminar, and won't have projects (unless I find something small to present). Lots to tell, and I'd rather talk about it than type about it. I will have some photos to share, too.

Today my sister Pat and I are driving back to Chicagoland and Tuesday I take the train back home.

Happy trails!